Nav: Home

Captive chimpanzees spontaneously use tools to excavate underground food

May 15, 2019

Chimpanzees in captivity can successfully work out how to use tools to excavate underground food, even if they've never been presented with an underground food scenario before, according to a study published May 15, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Alba Motes-Rodrigo and colleagues and directed by Adriana Hernandez-Aguilar from the University of Oslo.

Recent studies have indicated that wild chimpanzees and bearded capuchins are capable of using tools to excavate underground food such as plant roots, corms, and tubers--overturning earlier hypotheses that this type of tool use was unique to humans and their ancient hominin ancestors. In this study, the authors studied tool use and selection in captive chimps to further understand how food excavation behavior may have developed.

Motes-Rodrigo and colleagues monitored a colony of ten chimpanzees (Pan troglogytes) living on an island enclosure at the Kristiansand Zoo in Norway, eight of whom were born in captivity and none of whom had previously performed excavating behaviors. The authors dug five small holes and placed whole fruit in each, initially leaving the holes open to alert the chimpanzees to the fruit, and later filling in each hole. At first, the authors provided ready-made tree stick and bark tools; in a second experiment, they did not provide ready-made tools for excavation.

Nine of the ten chimps successfully excavated buried fruit at least once, with eight chimps choosing to use tools rather than their bare hands to do so. When the chimpanzees were not given ready-made tools, they collected their own tools from island vegetation. The authors observed the chimpanzees reusing particular tools as well as choosing long tools over shorter ones for excavation behaviors. In addition to noting six different types of excavation behaviors, the authors also observed chimps taking turns to excavate a hole, and even sharing the fruit once extracted.

The authors caution that results from captive chimps may not be exactly extrapolated to wild populations; and that modern apes should not be treated simply as "living fossil" stand-ins for hominin ancestors. Nonetheless, they speculate that early hominins may have worked out how to use simple tools to harvest underground food in a similar fashion to these chimps.
-end-
Citation: Motes-Rodrigo A, Majlesi P, Pickering TR, Laska M, Axelsen H, Minchin TC, et al. (2019) Chimpanzee extractive foraging with excavating tools: Experimental modeling of the origins of human technology. PLoS ONE 14(5): e0215644. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0215644

Funding: Funded by La Caixa Foundation Spain (grant number LCF/BQ/EU15/10350002 awarded to Alba Motes-Rodrigo), University of Oslo, Department of Biosciences, Norway. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS ONE: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0215644

PLOS

Related Chimpanzees Articles:

Crops provide chimpanzees with more energy than wild foods
A University of Kent study has found that cultivated foods offer chimpanzees in West Africa more energetic benefits than wild foods available in the region.
The growing pains of orphan chimpanzees
Using long-term behavioral and hormonal data from wild chimpanzees in the Taï Forest, Côte d'Ivoire, researchers from the Taï Chimpanzee Project at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, have revealed that mothers may be shaping pre-adult growth and offspring muscle mass even without direct provisioning.
How humans and chimpanzees travel towards a goal in rainforests
How do human-unique ranging styles, like large home range and trail use, influence the way we travel to our goals?
Chimpanzees' working memory similar to ours
Working memory is central to our mental lives; we use it to add up the cost of our shopping or to remember the beginning of this sentence at its end.
Research identifies key driver for infanticide among chimpanzees
Study concludes that the sexual selection hypothesis was the main reason for the high rates of infanticide among a community of chimpanzees in Uganda.
Chimpanzees catch and eat crabs
Chimpanzees have a mainly vegetarian diet, but do occasionally eat meat.
Chimpanzees at the crossroads: adapt to living outside protected areas
Chimpanzees at the crossroads: how they adapt to living outside protected areas Research carried out into the impact of changes to chimpanzee habitats found they have adapted to human developments in a number of ways -- including learning how to cross roads safely and the best times to visit human habitats -- but their survival is still threatened.
Social insecurity also stresses chimpanzees
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology conducted behavioral observations and collected urine samples for cortisol analysis of male chimpanzees of the Tai National Park, Ivory Coast, during periods of intense male-male competition.
Sweeping census provides new population estimate for western chimpanzees
A sweeping new census published in the journal Environmental Research Letters estimates 52,800 western chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) live in eight countries in western Africa, with most of them found outside of protected areas, some of which are threatened by intense development pressures.
Chimpanzees lose their behavioral and cultural diversity
Chimpanzees are well known for their extraordinary diversity of behaviors, with some behaviors also exhibiting cultural variation.
More Chimpanzees News and Chimpanzees Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.